Art of Loving: September 20, 2016

August 4, 2016 by

An Introduction to Getting the Love You Want !

Come join us for an introduction to the Imago Relationship process which helps couples deepen their connection to each other and transform their relationship to a passionate partnership.

Falling in love is magical; maintaining those good feelings can be a challenge.

We love feeling the emotional spark, sexual chemistry, desire and romance that falling in love brings. Over time, that initial feeling fades, leaving us feeling disillusioned and longing for more connection with our partner. For most of us, we don’t understand why this has happened and blame ourselves, out partners or our relationships.

Few of us know how to find our way back to the passion we once had. Some give up on their relationship and others just resign themselves to it.  Don’t do either! Instead come find out about Imago and the possibilities it offers for new way to love.

In the Imago process there is no blame, shame or criticism. Instead, it offers a theoretical perspective on the common issues couples experience plus a set of practical skills that teaches couples how to deeply listen and be heard in an emotionally safe environment. It encourages connection and trust, which is the foundation of a passionate relationship.

Come join us for an evening discussion that will be entertaining and insightful. Discover how to have the relationship of your dreams with your partner!

Register here >

Bio of the presenters

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Maureen McEvoy, MA, RCC (left), Tamara Adilman MA, MEd, RCC (right)

Tamara and Maureen have been Imago Relationship Therapists for close to 20 years. They each have a private practice specializing in couples therapy.

Tamara and Maureen have been providing the Getting the Love You Want Couples weekend and Sex and Intimacy workshops together for the past 9 years.

Tamara has been in a relationship with her partner Sarah for 31 years and they have two sons. Tamara loves talking about relationships, teaching about them, and being in one!

Maureen has been in relationship with her partner Lawrence for 26 years and has one daughter. Maureen credits Imago for helping them to weather some personal tough times.

Both Tamara and Maureen are inclusive, sex and kink positive in their approach to supporting couples.

Register here >

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Hijacked

May 16, 2016 by

grass seeds

We have all been hijacked in our relationship more than we would like to admit. Getting hijacked by our brain and reacting negatively is one of the most common experiences we have with our partners. It feels terrible.

You know the drill …

Your partner and you have a disagreement about something. It could be anything – big or small, important or ridiculous, personal or political-it doesn’t really matter. It’s the sense of being different that may cause you to disconnect and then react to each other. It is an old dance step that repeats. over and over. It is one of the most discouraging and repetitive experiences intimate relationship offers us.

Alas, what ensues next is also far too familiar for most of us. One partner feels panic as a result of the disconnect and then escalates their reaction to great heights (i.e. need to talk about it immediately, can’t let it go, keep trying to connect even in negative ways, starting yelling etc). The other partner shuts down (i.e. withholds, leaves the room, goes to sleep, refuses to communicate. etc). This is the scene of the hijacking.

It feels so bad and usually gets worse the longer it goes on and/or the more intense each partner feels about being wronged. The hijacking gets into full swing as each partner plays out their unconscious role during the attack. One will escalate the emotional climate while the other will pull back in retreat mode. While this is predictable, it is also out of control – not a good combination.

I call this the 3Ds… The Destructive, Discouraging Dynamic Attack.

So what is the answer?

Here’s an idea on how to avoid the 3Ds.

  1. Admit to yourself that a hijacking is taking place. This requires an honest self assessment that does not include primarily blaming your partner. FYI This is the hardest step and not meant for the faint of heart.
  2. Take time away from each other for 20-25 minutes (with a commitment to return after a predetermined agreed upon time). Time away means to calmly go to another room, to not slam the door on your way out, to stop talking, to go for a walk, to do whatever calms you and then return after the specified time has taken place.
  3. When you do reconvene all you are allowed to do is MIRROR each other or take a break from talking all together and MIRROR the next day. I know this is difficult but it is a much better result than a discussion which is likely to go sideways again.
  4. CALM yourself. This is critical to getting past the 3Ds. Finding calm is one of the most difficult human tasks to accomplish during an emotional hijacking incident. I think CALM can be better understood if we break it down into 4 distinct parts.

CALM

C stands for COUNTING breaths. Count your breath as you focus on it. Inhale for 4 counts, pause for 2 counts and exhale for 4 counts. Imagine that you are creating a circle with your breath as you count 4 in 2 hold 4 out. Continue doing this for minutes at a time. It changes everything.

A stands for ACKNOWLEDGE your partner is NOT YOU! Really say this to yourself many times over… my partner is not me and that is the reality.

L stands for Listen to your partner’s perspective. While you may not agree it is possible to decide to listen to their perspective while remaining quiet. To be successful at this remember to Breathe 4 in, hold 2 and 4 out.

M stands for Monitor yourself during the emotional interaction. This alone will force you to take responsibility for your part in the hijacking and allow you to respond a little more intentionally.

So to avoid the 3Ds practice CALM in your relationship. Just so you know, this isn’t supposed to be easy or feel good or even natural so don’t let that be your excuse!

Dare ya

For the next 2 weeks, practice breathing multiple times during the day – 4 in, hold 2 and 4 out.

Then take the big step and come up with a predetermined timeframe so the next time the two of you are hijacked you can institute the time out plan and avoid the 3Ds using the CALM 4 point plan. Mirror each other when you re-engage. Allow yourself to feel liberated and successful in overcoming emotional hijacking while it is in progress.

Good luck I know you can do it!

In support

T.A.

Rituals to Transition from Work to Play

March 28, 2016 by

Tips from Esther Perel on getting in the mood…

work-hands

Rituals to Transition from Work to Play

This article is originally posted here on Esther Perel.

 

“I work long hours and at the end of the day I don’t feel like having sex. Any tips on how to shake off the stress to get myself in the mood?”  Claire, 41

When people used to work at the factory or on the farm, they came home from work. The separation between home life and work life was clear. But for so many of us today, the lines are blurred. It’s not uncommon for Claire to receive an email at 10:30 at night, and be expected to reply within 30 minutes.

We live in a goal-oriented society, where capitalism and productivity are top priority. Yet, play is an important part of life, and one that adults often neglect. Just as you nurture your career, you also need to nurture the erotic in your relationship. We can only play when we are finished working, and most of us today never feel like the work has ended. You can’t be sexual if you’re still in busy worker-bee mode.

Even people who look forward to being sexual with their partner must go through a transition from responsibility to pleasure. This is a difficult transition for many of us. There are two internal transitions that must occur before you can think about entering an erotic space:Professional → Partner then Partner → Lover.

Eroticism at home requires active engagement and willful intent; It doesn’t just happen. It requires that you create your own demarcation between pragmatism and pleasure and that you cultivate a space where a sense of intrigue and curiosity can emerge.

1. Build anticipation throughout the day
Committed sex is premeditated. Anticipation and imagination are the precursors and can be as enchanting as the act itself. For example, imagine you have tickets to go hear a favorite band. Throughout the day, you’ll be savoring the thought of the songs they may play, what you’ll wear, the memories that you will share, of other times you saw this band, etc. Unconsciously, you’re setting expectations and building anticipation for a wonderful night, and you feel energized and alive. It is the same sexually speaking.

  • Let your partner know that tonight, you want to create a digital free zone in the home and all devices are cut off at 9:30pm.
  • Send a suggestive text or email to your partner.
  • Buy wine, lube or flowers on your lunch break: whatever invites love-making in your unique dynamic.

2. Create and maintain a relaxing ritual at the end of the day
No matter whether you commute, or work from home, you must mark the end of your work day by entering a soothing ritual of your choice. It can be an indulgent, playful, or a guilty pleasure. Shift your context by sending a message to your brain: it’s time to start relaxing. If you spend most of your day sitting down, try incorporating any movement into your ritual. If you’re on your feet, try reading or listening to music. Go for a walk. Take a shower. Read a magazine. Whatever works for you. 

3. Connect with your partner when you get home
Are you the person who comes into the house and looks at the mail first, or checks the pets, or the plants, or the windows? If so, remember this: People first. It’s important to give your relationship your focused attention. Make it a habit to kiss your partner when you get home. It doesn’t need to be blatantly sexual. It’s the focused attention that invites the erotic. Even a loving gaze sets the right tone.

4. Change the mood and ambiance
Create the space in which you transition from your roles as parents/business partners/friends, into your roles as lovers. Shift from focusing on your responsibility for others to self care. Again, no pressure, even if there is no sex, you’ll enjoy being physical and sensual together. Here are some simple ideas to set the stage:

  • Put on your pre-set love making tracks
  • Take a short walk
  • Open a bottle of wine
  • Draw a bath
  • Light candles
  • Read out loud to each other (not about the election)These are not immediate turn ons, but they help you switch mindset, mood, and sensibility. The point is to create an erotic space where pleasure exists for its own sake, where “pleasure is the measure” and where sex can take place without pressure. By successfully managing the transition from work to home, you can create space to enter a playful erotic zone.

Dare ya!

What is the cue, code or ritual that you and your partner share between the two of you that helps you switch from your productive self to your erotic self?  Whatever is your special turn on, try it this week and make something happen! Hey Spring is here so why not get started with some sexy time!
Yours truly, T

Guest Post: 3 ways to Jumpstart Your Relationship

January 25, 2016 by

Since we are all about starting the New year off on the right foot, we thought you might also enjoy this article from Richard Nicastro on three ways to jumpstart your relationship.

Richard is a couples therapist in New Mexico. He publishes a Strengthen your Relationship newsletter and also offers podcasts. Find out more through his website: StrengthenYourRelationship.com

3 ways to Jumpstart Your Relationship

1) See your spouse or partner with new eyes

Years ago a client said something to me that I doubt I will forget. She said it took her husband almost having an affair for her to see him with new eyes, and she was cautioning all her friends not to wait to that point with their husbands. I was fascinated by that idea and asked her to explain.

“He’d become familiar to me,” she said, speaking about her husband. “Don’t get me wrong, that was a good thing, too. I liked knowing I could rely on him and be reasonably certain about how he’d behave in certain situations. But…” She paused to heave a big sigh. “I think that level of familiarity caused me to stop seeing him. I stopped seeing him as the individual that he was and instead only saw him as my husband, almost an extension of me.”

Her husband started to sense that, perhaps, because he accepted a Facebook friend request from an ex-girlfriend from college, even though part of his brain told him he shouldn’t. He began sharing thoughts with her that he wasn’t sharing with his wife. He didn’t feel right about it, and eventually came to his wife.

“It was a jarring moment,” she said. “Jarring and disorienting, but ultimately, beneficial for our marriage. It was like I was blinking awake out of a long sleep. I saw my husband as a vibrant, complex human being, much more than just my mate, and I saw that he was desirable and quite a catch. I tell you, from that day on, I’ve been seeing him with new eyes, and our marriage is stronger for it.”

Keep in mind that your relationship doesn’t have to be on the brink of an affair for you to see your partner with new eyes! It is a decision, and it partly involves setting aside the taking-for-granted mindset that we all fall into from time-to-time. Make the effort to see your partner the way others might see him/her. See your partner as the unique, interesting individual s/he is and bring into the forefront of your mind all the characteristics that drew you to him/her in the first place.

2) Nurture an attitude of gratitude

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how vital gratitude is for a happy life. But did you know that it’s also beneficial for your relationship? When you make it a rule of thumb to start with what’s already working in your marriage (before you focus on what isn’t), and when you nurture appreciation for those positive aspects of your union or the good things your partner does for you and the relationship (keep in mind they don’t need to be “big” things—the relatively little things have a positive cumulative effect), you help to nurture the relationship overall.

3) Initiate loving moments (rather than wait for them)

A client once told me that her boyfriend wasn’t as affectionate as she wanted him to be. In exploring this further, I asked about what happened when she showed him affection. She looked at me blankly and finally said, “Well, I’m certainly not going to be affectionate toward him if he’s not affectionate toward me first!”

When I asked her to think about that from her boyfriend’s point of view, and asked her to consider that he might be thinking the very same thing, I could see her opening to that.

The fact is, moods and mindsets and behaviours are often contagious. Did you ever notice how you might’ve been in great mood one morning but you got to work where people were cranky and complaining about their problems and your mood plummeted? (Or the reverse…your mood might’ve been lifted by the positivity of those around you.) This dynamic is at work in your relationship, too.

Decide to jumpstart the loving moments in your marriage or relationship by deciding to be the one to initiate them, rather than wait for them. (And eventually, your partner might initiate them too!)

There you have it, 3 ways to jumpstart your relationship in the New Year. You might try one at a time, and you’ll see that if you stick with it, you’ll likely feel motivated to try them all.

Why a workshop?

October 10, 2015 by

ORH3R20XHZ

I ran into someone the other day at the grocery store who attended a Getting the Love You Want Workshop with her partner a few years ago. She stopped me in the produce section and asked if I remembered her. I told her she seemed familiar but that I was sorry I could not place her. She reminded me that they had attended our workshop and she wanted to thank me for saving her marriage. I was quite uncomfortable because I know I did not save her marriage. Not even close. Still, she seemed intent on thanking me. 

What I realized as I said good bye was that it was our workshop that had saved her marriage.  

She said that coming to the workshop was a last ditch effort for them. She also shared with me that her husband had no interest in attending before they came and she had said that if he didn’t attend she would leave him. After many years of unhappiness and poor patterns of communication, she was “done”.

This is a very common experience for many couples and too many wait until it is almost too late to attend.  It puzzles me. Why would people wait until it is almost too late to learn relationship tools that could  make their lives together more meaningful? Don’t people want to be happy? Why do people avoid attending, thinking that a couples workshop is not for them?

I believe the one word answer to this is FEAR. People are afraid because they may think it will make things worse or that they will have to air their dirty laundry in a group situation. Both of these fears are completely UNTRUE but it makes sense people might think them.

One thing that the woman told me at the grocery store was that her husband said he wished he hadn’t been so stubborn and would have attended the workshop earlier as  it was one of the most positive things he’s ever done. That’s a big confession from someone who almost lost his marriage!

This was such a revelation to me. I don’t really know what happens to people after they complete the workshop if they don’t keep in touch. So hearing from this woman put into perspective how powerfully positive it can be.

If you or someone you know wants to positively transform their relationship tell them to come to a Getting the Love You Want workshop. Sometimes we don’t know how something can change our lives until we do it.

Our next one is October 23-25 2015. 

Dare ya- Get yourself and your partner to a workshop!

In support,

Tamara

Maureen here – writing from the annual Imago conference in Florida – recently more research was published that demonstrates Imago works. In this particular study there were changes in the couples’ brain (how cool is that!) after the workshop and these changes remained constant if the couple continued to dialogue, either at home or with the support of a therapist, or if they attended follow-up seminars that keep the Imago journey alive.

New Beginnings

September 8, 2015 by

a5b5965b058f1d6f446aca155ce5fcb7September is a time for new beginnings ! There is so much that happens this time of year…a new school year for kids, a new job for some, a new series starting, a new fitness regime, new apples (finally) at the market, and new weather patterns. This time of year is when new things always happen.

In the Jewish calendar, September is the New Year – a time of reflection, of taking stock and even asking forgiveness for the things one needs to take responsibility for over the past year.

It’s a time of contemplation and being as conscious as one can be. It’s about new beginnings and difficult conversations;  it’s about cleaning up what needs to cleaned up and creating new goals to work towards.

In the spirit of being conscious and moving forward, I thought it might be a wonderful opportunity for all of us to think about how the next season of life and love should begin.  Let’s take the time to reflect on how you to make changes in our own relationships or even recommit to them in a more meaningful way.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Is there something in your relationship that’s holding you back that you need to let go of?
  • Is there a behaviour change that is needed in your relationship?
  • Is there something you want to take responsibility for that you have been putting off?
  • Are there life changes about to happen you need to talk about?

As the summer draws to a close, you might find that you and your partner have been putting off discussions you haven’t wanted to have because you have been in summer mode.  This rings true in my own relationship as we are about to become empty nesters. Our youngest is moving away to go to university next week. We know we will miss him like crazy but we keep avoiding talking about how this is going to affect us. Because we are not sure of what to do with all the time we will have, we have been putting off making plans or committing to new things. We, like many of you, have been avoiding discussing what needs to be addressed because the newness of our next chapter is scary and unfamiliar.

As I reflect on this I want to kick my own butt and sit down with my partner and start figuring out how to cope with the massive change that is about to happen.

I have some ideas about what I want to do both as a couple and individually but it’s time to sit down together and start figuring out what the next chapter might look like. It’s time to feel the fear and do it anyway and see what we might be able to create that is exciting , fulfilling and helps deal with the sadness of our baby leaving home.

Dare ya- Sit down this week and have a meaningful dialogue about something you have been avoiding talking about. Tell us how it goes!

In support,

T.A.

Sexy time

August 15, 2015 by

Couples feet in bed

Ever wonder why sex in the long term can be so challenging?

There is no easy answer to this but there is much to be understood about sex in a long term monogamous relationship. I get asked questions like these all the time:

  • How can sex be exciting again?
  • Why do we fight so much about sex?
  • Why is she/he avoiding coming to bed with me? It’s like they don’t want to be intimate with me anymore
  • Why am I so anxious when I think about sex with my partner?

Common? Yes!

But why?

Once you are past the romantic phase of your relationship, and the Love Potion chemicals are no longer running so heavily, the passion that came so easily changes and like all things, needs to be cultivated and sparked. So many couples either don’t realize this is a natural phenomenon or don’t know how to keep igniting passion  so they end up having a very difficult time navigating their sexual lives. While sex starved relationships are rampant in our culture it still leaves us feeling sad, isolated and very dissatisfied.

If you have attended our Getting the Love You Want Weekend workshop we invite you to come to our annual 1 Day Sex and Intimacy Workshop. This year it is on September 26th from 9-4 pm.  If you want to register please go on our website at www.Imagovancouver.com. Registration is limited to 12 couples.

(Note: Only those who have attended the weekend Getting the Love You Want workshop are eligible).

Don’t Take your Partner for Granted

August 12, 2015 by

bridge

After two decades  of being a relationship therapist I want to share a piece of wisdom I have learned – Don’t take your partner for granted.

This is one of the most surefire ways to alienate your partner and sometimes unwittingly end your relationship.

As the years roll by in your  relationship it is all too easy to take your partner for granted. This would include not listening , not appreciating, not showing gratitude, and not showing care and attention to your partner’s needs. Instead of treating your partner as precious you may be allowing your irritation , annoyance and disagreement to dominate. When things between the two of you take on an edge of criticism you are on a slippery slope to the abyss.

The best way to lose your partner’s affection and trust is to take them for granted. When I see couples at my office they often say things like, “I am too shut down to open up again”, or “Now that they are finally trying, I just don’t have those feelings anymore”, or “It’s too little. too late”.

Don’t be another partner who regrets their indifference or lack of appreciation towards their partner. Don’t wait until it’s too late to change.

Dare ya – Acknowledge to your beloved that you have not been the partner you want to be. Take responsibility and listen to what their needs are and do your best to meet their wishes . Be the best you can be… this will be life changing and save you from so much regret.

In support,

T.A.

EXITS? Are Ya Coming Back?

March 24, 2015 by

Exits

The word EXIT is derived from the Latin word exire which means to “go out”. What does this have to do with our relationships? Well, let’s think about the many ways we “go out” of our relationship everyday.

We “go out” of our relationships to go to work, visit friends, buy groceries, go for a run, go to yoga, run errands, walk the dog, care for the children, spend too much time having relationships with our technology etc. We all do many things each day that take us away from our relationships and that is a normal part of life. The problem arises when you don’t come full back into the relationship. And unfortunately that’s true for many us.

By coming back, we mean to come back so that you can SHOW UP in your relationship fully and completely. You might come back physically but do you really come back emotionally?

What does not coming fully back look like?

It could be when you walk in the door from work but you stay disconnected. Maybe you go right to your computer before you say hello to your Partner. Maybe you greet the dog more effusively than your Partner. It could look like talking to a friend about your life more than your partner. Or maybe focusing only on your kids and never having a Date Night to focus your relationship. Maybe you continually check your phone or mindlessly look at your Facebook.  And maybe you pick a fight or criticize your partner because you know that will drive your Partner away for the rest of the day. These are all examples of how we EXIT and “go out “of our relationship. Most of us have perfected ways to disconnect from our partners.

Why do we do this?

Maybe we are afraid of conflict? Or vulnerability? Or intimacy? Or we don’t want to rock the boat so we stay distant? Or we take our relationship for granted? Or we want to focus on our own needs more than our partners? Or we are just tired? There are lots of reasons but I want to suggest that when we exit, it’s because we generally do not feel safe in our relationships. And so the feelings we don’t feel safe to say get acted out in our Exiting behaviours.

What is the solution to this situation?

It’s obvious. Building a safe connection and fostering  trust in your relationship is key. Remembering to laugh and have fun together is vital. Letting go of the little things sure helps. Finding the courage to show up authentically and be interested in your partner. And the critical first step is to stop hiding behind whatever Exit you are hiding behind and be willing to speak your truth to your Partner.

Believe me, it is more satisfying to be in a relationship that is connected and alive. Ask yourself, have I gone out (at some level) and  have I forgotten to come back? Maybe it’s time to enter through the front door and say, “hi honey, I am HOME!”

Dare ya – Come to our Half Day workshop on EXITS April 18 from 9-1pm and find out everything you need to know about how to come back to your relationship (this is offered to anyone who has already attended our Getting the Love You Want Weekend Workshop)

Workshop Details: 
April 18 9am-1pm
YWCA, 733 Beatty Street, Vancouver B.C.

Register at Imagovancouver.com
*Registration is only open to those who have already attended a previous Getting the Love You Want workshop

Happy 2015 Valentine’s Day

January 29, 2015 by

Turtles in love

Hello Friends,

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Yes, once again it is that day of the year when we honour our partners and try and experience them as the lovers we fell in love with.

I know there is too much pressure put on this day. It seems as though the authentic romance we want to feel gets lost in the materialistic Hallmark day it has become. Have no fear…put the meaning back in by keeping things simple. Somehow simplicity can help to make it more memorable.

Here are some ideas for those of you who need inspiration:

  • Give your partner a love poem (you don’t even have to write it!)
  • Make a nice dinner at home and eat by candlelight on the floor
  • Just spend the evening in candlelight!
  • Go for a walk in the day and stop somewhere new for a coffee and surprise your lover with special chocolates with the coffee
  • Stay in bed together longer than usual in the morning!
  • FLIRT with your lover all day!
  • Give your lover a massage

Whatever you do, be loving, kind and have some fun because otherwise what’s the point?

Dare ya – You can use our ideas but we dare you to come up with your own unique idea for that special someone!  Spread the love around!

Love on V Day,
T